Leading on from the previous post; Female Pleasure – or not, this post explores the Orgasm Gap – as it’s something I wrote about having experienced, and then learned there was a name for it.
In this article by Kate Hakala, is says that ‘on average, only 57% of women are having orgasms most or every time they have sex. The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior found that while 91% of men got off during their last sexual encounter, only 64% of women came.’ (US stats)
Apparently, this gap is much more rare amongst homosexual partners. A 2014 survey found that ‘gay men come about 85% of the time while lesbian women get off about 75% of the time’.
So, as Hakala astutely observes, ‘How, pray tell, are straight couples getting it so damn wrong in bed?’
Is it because, ‘men just aren’t willing to do that hard “work” as often as women’…?
‘Its what Kate McCombs calls “the empathy gap” in sex. “Some guys just don’t make the effort to make sure their partners are having as much fun as they are.”‘
Another interviewee states, “It’s almost baffling how being selfish in bed is basically baseline for straight couples,” […] “Just some slight generosity, just making sure I come when he comes. … That’s what’s going to separate the people I never call again from the people I definitely fuck again.” Exactly, that’s just what I was battling with in my last post Female Pleasure…or not – I just don’t get it. It’s so easy for both parties to be happy….
A huge part of the problem is social norms that dictate ‘the focus on men’s internal wants and sensations … Thus his orgasm, but not necessarily hers, becomes a critical part of what must happen for a sexual encounter to be successful and fulfilling.’
Which is why ‘intercourse – a sexual act that is strongly correlated with orgasm for men – is the only act that almost everyone agrees counts as “real sex,” whereas activities that are more likely to produce orgasm in women are considered optional foreplay.’ (Lisa Wade).
And ‘male orgasm is the default of sex, but female orgasm still, against all logic, isn’t.’ Exactly the reason I invented Dick Advisor.
This is exactly the predominant social norm that as women we are battling against. Help us out fellas!! Educate yourselves & make sure that gal gets off! Though if you’re reading this you are more than likely already one of those that isn’t lacking in that area….:)
Another issue Lisa Wade identifies is ‘the idea that women’s primary goal in sex is to deliver a sexy body can focus her attention on how she looks instead of how she feels. This can lead to spectating, being worried about how she looks from her partner’s perspective, which decreases the chance a woman will have an orgasm’.
Yet another issue which author of Girls and Sex, Peggy Orenstein identifies when interviewed in this article is ‘that we perform the equivalent of a psychological clitoridectomy on girls from the time they’re babies. We name all boy parts, but with girls we’re silent from the navel to the knees. We never say vulva or clitoris, and studies show that fewer of half of girls have ever masturbated. Then they go into their partner encounters and we somehow magically think they’re going to be able to express their wants and needs and limits, and think that sex is about them, too – and it’s not realistic. We’re setting them up for unequal relationships’.
Orenstein also talks about the role of porn in this, where too often still ‘female sexuality is there just for male pleasure, as a performance for men’.
These are all crucial, and important points to understand in terms of why the orgasm gap exists.
So what to do about this?
According to most of what I’ve read, the best way of ensuring that as a woman, you come more is to leave hook ups behind and have a relationship.
Not to detract in any way from the important points above it, but I have an issue with this idea. Basically, that as women if we want to come, we need to change our own behaviour and conform to societies relationship norms – e.g. by having a relationship even if we don’t want one.
Men won’t make (single) women come, so rather than change the inequity of the societal norms that result in this, it’s the women’s behaviour & wants we need to change? Yeah, sorry I don’t buy that – and as a woman, changing my own behaviour to make up for the inadequacies of the patriarchal society in which I function is something I’ve been forced into practising far too often over my lifetime.
Here are some reasons this attitude towards women and hook ups, doesn’t hold water;
Firstly, I read about someone who deleted tinder because she had ‘had maybe one orgasm out of all the [five] hookups’ in the last 6 months. That is a bad tally. But she sounds unlucky – my 50% looks pretty reasonable compared to that and I’ve only just started out.
Next, I’m not sure, but I think in this interview they were trying to portray what this guy thinks as a normal attitude;
“I’m all about making her orgasm,” said a man interviewed for their study. “The general her or like the specific her?” he was asked. “Girlfriend her,” he responded, “In a hook-up her, I don’t give a shit.”
That’s neither normal or OK and shouldn’t be portrayed as such. This is exactly the kind of selfish prick I was talking about in Female Pleasure…or not. What exactly does he think the woman he is with is engaging in this for, purely for his pleasure? It sounds like he has a keen awareness of exactly what he is doing, which just makes him selfish & that’s unacceptable.
I take issue with the idea in Orenstein’s article that hook up culture is just for males – that they are the only sex who can enjoy it, as it’s simplistically portrayed in the article. Me, along with many other women no doubt, very much see this as something for us, that we choose and enjoy – and for it to be suggested that we need intimacy where men don’t and couldn’t possibly enjoy the experience otherwise is hugely patronising. We know exactly what we are doing and actively choose it. (Possibly she is not speaking for my age group, though this isn’t made clear – it’s a point that is made pretty generally in reference to women who hook up).
Something I enjoy also about sex as a singleton that isn’t referred to in any of these articles, is the anticipation, freedom, potential, choice, diversity, excitement and fantasy of it all – that’s a real turn on, and not something you have the freedom to indulge usually (or as much) as part of a relationship.
Leading on from this, my experience was that in a failing relationship you basically have no sex (or drive) at all. This is sad, and not the norm of a healthy relationship, but again this is about looking at the reality of my experience with complete honesty – this no doubt reflects many real relationships out there too. I ask myself – what is my situation actually like rather than the dreams of what I want it to be like? Do my projected dreams block me from seeing what is actually happening? What I’m actually getting? And if I’m single, is my experience so much the worse? I certainly haven’t found it to be so. Like I’ve been saying, of course there is grief, loneliness, sadness, self-doubt – but like I’ve also been saying, you don’t get to escape these human insecurities just because you count yourself one of a couple. My goal at the moment is to make my situation as good as possible based on my actual reality – not my or societies projected fantasies for what my life should look like.
However, it begs the question…
Where to go from here? I want to balance the ‘come’ tally but don’t want a relationship – really what do I do?
I have some ideas of how to keep your orgasms AND your casual hook ups, if that is indeed what you’re after.
1. CHANGE ATTITUDES: Firstly we can start changing our attitudes as & towards women who choose to engage in hook-ups/casual sex;
‘Out of nerves, insecurity, or a lack of entitlement, women often prioritise men’s pleasure too.’
This has got to stop!!! We don’t just have to accept it and decide that this course of freedom and fun is just not open to us because we can’t get as much pleasure from it – we need to CHANGE it. To CHANGE how men engage in these activities – because in my experience it is really not that bad. I was shocked that 50% of the Tinder men I was with were not interested in my pleasure (let me remind you this is a mere 2 men so far!!), but what I’m more shocked at is the idea that because they aren’t, I somehow have to be excluded from this thing I want to do in order to get what I need, and conform to societies relationship norms when these don’t work for me.
It may be all very well and feminist to decide you aren’t engaging in a hook up because you have more orgasms in a relationship, but it’s not feminist at all to sit back & say ‘ah well, women aren’t getting what we want from this situation – let’s all change our behaviour, limit our freedom as women to adjust ourselves because the patriarchal society we live under that prioritises male pleasure is not giving us what we need’.
Because it is changing already, and there’s already LOADS of men out there dying to give women pleasure!! Its just about finding them… In terms of educating the others & women to feel entitled, we need to think about it, speak about it, write about it more, so that the next generation of women and men know about this, and don’t see intercourse as the ultimate form of ‘proper’ sex. They see sex (in a relationship, casual hookup, whatever) as a pleasurable positive interaction between parties who both care about what each other need.
2. SPECIFY YOUR REQUIREMENTS:
Be very specific on your profile if you are finding people online. As mentioned in my previous post, my Tinder profile now specifically states that I am not interested in men who are only interested in their own pleasure. This has got to help ‘filter in’ those LOADS of men referred to just above! .
3. Consider getting a LOVER:
From the research, evidence shows that ‘additional hookups and additional activities tend to increase her rate of orgasm’ – so a possible solution is to look for one or more regular(ish!) sexual partners – lovers essentially. (How to distinguish this from a boyfriend?? Well I’ve been thinking about that…but that’s another post entirely!)
4. Channel AMY SCHUMER;
5. Remember these other ‘well-known women [who] publicly embrace their sexuality and insist on not settling for not getting-off — no matter how long it takes, or how much instruction they have to provide’;
Talk about this with your friends, talk about it with whoever, write about it, research it, post about it, tweet about it, join the conversation – it’s awareness that will help change it. As Orenstein says, part of the problem is that we ‘still don’t have honest conversations with young women about sexuality and how their bodies should feel to them, rather than how their bodies should look to other people. “Once we stopped saying ‘Don’t do it,’ we did not replace it with discussions about ethics, responsibility, reciprocity and enjoyment. Because of that, the media and now the internet rushed in with a lot of extraordinary, unhealthy messages.”
7. Flex your ‘ENTITLEMENT muscle’
Just to try and sway things the other way a bit try taking the selfish role and take without giving (you know, to ultimately get that final happy medium….). Because frankly as women, our entitlement muscle is something that has had millennia of neglect – its been sitting there limp and unused, so this could be just the way to train it. Pleeeeease let me know if you do this – I am going to try!!! Would take some guts …. 🙂
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I want your ideas! I’m only one person with my own ideas and thoughts, channelling some of the ones I’ve found around me. I really would love to hear yours – tell me your thoughts on the little (or big!) things we can do to help shift these social norms and make things better for women…..scrap that – better for everyone! Because who isn’t happy when everyone’s having great sex?!Follow @singlefemaleblg
These are the 4 main articles I reference in this post;
Interview with Peggy Orenstein http://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/lifestyle-features/164699/lets-talk-about-sex%E2%80%A6
‘There’s One Way to Close the Orgasm Gap, Once and For All’ Kate Hakala https://mic.com/articles/141670/this-is-the-number-you-should-try-keeping-in-mind-during-your-sexual-encounters#.kbnBP9bgE
The Orgasm Gap: The Real Reason Women Get Off Less Often Than Men and How to Fix It Lisa Wade http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/orgasm-gap-real-reason-women-get-less-often-men-and-how-fix-it